Ashton Kutcher is making headlines again, but not because he’s replacing someone on a hit comedy show. This time, the quirky actor is taking some serious flak for a parody dating ad he recently recorded for snack company PopChips.
In the minute-and-a-half long video, which debuted on the web yesterday, Kutcher portrays a handful of quirky characters who are all looking for their perfect match online.
One of the characters he portrays, Raj, is supposed to be a Middle Eastern, Bollywood movie producer, and Kutcher dons “brownface” and a stereotypical Middle Eastern accent in acting out the character’s quest for love.
New York entrepreneur Anil Dash has called for an apology from Popchips and the whole production.
Dash calls the spot a “hackneyed, unfunny advertisement featuring Kutcher in brownface talking about his romantic options, with the entire punchline being he’s doing it in a fake-Indian outfit and voice…I can’t imagine I have to explain this to anyone in 2012, but if you find yourself putting on brown makeup on a white person in 2012 so they can do a bad ‘funny’ accent to sell potato chips, you are on the wrong course.
“I think the people behind this Popchips ad are not racist. I think they just made a racist ad, because they’re so steeped in our culture’s racism that they didn’t even realize they were doing it,” he wrote.
PopChips has quickly backtracked on the ad, saying in a statement that the ”dating parody featuring four characters was created to provoke a few laughs and was never intended to stereotype or offend anyone.”
The statement adds that the company embraces “all types of shapes, flavors and colors, and appreciate all snackers, no matter their race or ethnicity. We hope people can enjoy this in the spirit it was intended.”
In an apology on the company’s website, the founder and CEO of PopChips, Keith Belling, says he takes full responsibility for the insensitive ad.
“We received a lot feedback about the dating campaign parody … and appreciate everyone who took the time to share their point of view,” Belling writes. “Our team worked hard to create a light-hearted parody featuring a variety of characters that was meant to provide a few laughs. We did not intend to offend anyone. I take full responsibility and apologize to anyone we offended.”
The full video, which also features Kutcher dressed as a fashionista, a spiritual pothead with dreadlocks, and a tattooed biker named Swordfish, is still available online and can be viewed below.
The extended video of Raj, however, has been taken down.
So is the ad racist? Yes, probably a little. What’s more ironic is that no one had ever even heard about his ad or PopChips before someone complained that it was racist, and now it’s going viral. That certainly seems to be a sign of the times, these days.
If you want to go viral, just do something stupid or controversial and the whole internet will look on. The world loves a good train wreck.
If this is so offensive, why don’t people complain about Apu on The Simpsons? I’ll tell you why – because Apu is funny and it’s a well done character.
What’s more offensive, in my opinion, is simply how unfunny this parody ad is. I don’t think I laughed once while watching it, but then again, that’s how I react to Two and a Half Men these days too.
I’m just counting down the days until the premiere of Anger Management.
Check out the video below and decide for yourself. Is this a racist ad?
- Here’s That Racist Commercial Ashton Kutcher Did in Brownface (thesuperficial.com)
- Ashton Kutcher in brownface: Ad yanked after racism complaints (mercurynews.com)
- Ashton Kutcher — Popchips Ad Pulled Over Brownface (tmz.com)
- Poll: Ashton Kutcher’s Popchips Ad Pulled After Fan Backlash – Is It Offensive? (947thewave.radio.com)